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Mids Get Major Attention from SportsCenter’s Connors

“K.C.’s Mid-Major Minute” shines the spotlight on lesser known college programs.

Back in November 2016, SportsCenter anchor Kevin Connors was looking through some college basketball scores as he prepared for the 11 p.m. ET show when a result caught his eye.

Utah Valley University [of the WAC] beat BYU [WCC], 114-101,” said Connors, who is nearing his 10-year anniversary at ESPN. “And I said ‘What the heck is Utah Valley University?’ I’d never heard of them before.

“I thought it was really cool, they beat BYU, that’s gotta be a gigantic upset for that team and big news out there,” he said. “I mentioned them on the air that night and I just got fabulous feedback.”

Sensing an opportunity, Connors developed “K.C.’s Mid-Major Minute,” a report he does every night he hosts SportsCenter during the college basketball season. The segment is shot on-set and then shared via social media.

“As a former Division III college basketball player myself [at Ithaca College], it occurred to me that you know what? The game is played outside of Lexington and Chapel Hill,” he said. “And so I thought to highlight some of these other programs would be a really neat thing and it’s taken off from there.

“I’ve had enormous help from producers and directors, Kevin Davies, Jim Ryan and Dan Weiner in particular, who have been very generous with their time,” he said. “I’ve been really proud of the growth that it’s had on Twitter and social media.

“Another really cool thing is I’ve had programs and coaches reach out to me and say ‘Hey can you keep an eye on us’ and ‘We did this tonight’ or ‘Our guys did this,’’’ he said. “And I’ve developed relationships with some of the coaches and that’s been beneficial to SportsCenter.

“It’s not the next Mike & Mike,” he said. “But it is something to let people know that these small programs can be successful.

“In addition to what we do with our job, we can create content in other ways that people are still going to consume, and that’s been a big takeaway for me. It’s been a really neat vehicle.”

Rhode Island Wins KC’s All-Mid Grid

What If. . . None of the Power 5 Conference teams were allowed in the NCAA Tournament? Kevin Connors presents the Mid-Major Minute’s very own bracket, “The All-Mid Grid.”

The news of a federal investigation that “revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks being funneled to influence recruits” cast a pall over this college basketball season – at least for some programs – as nearly all the schools potentially implicated have been from the Power 5 Conferences.

It got us thinking: What if this year’s NCAA Tournament was closed to schools from the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac 12? Instead, what if the Tournament was made up of 32 mid-major teams from outside the Power 5?

Front Row posed the question to its own Mid-Major maven, Kevin Connors. His answer: The “All-Mid Grid” he created, pictured above.

His pick for this imaginary title game is an all Atlantic 10 matchup and in reality, Connors believes the University of Rhode Island has a chance to make some noise in the “actual” Big Dance.

“A team like Rhode Island is a team that I really think can make it to the Sweet 16 and beyond,” Connors said. “They’ve got Danny Hurley as their coach and a very, very good backcourt.

“And South Dakota State [Summit League] was an NCAA tournament team last year and they have a guy [Mike Daum] who could play in the NBA,” Connor said. “If you’re filling out your real bracket, that might be one to remember if they’re able to get there.”

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